A voter returns a ballot at King County Elections headquarters
A voter returns a ballot at King County Elections headquarters using the drop box in the campus' parking lot (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

A scheme con­ceived by right wing activist Amber Krabach and her cronies on the now-dis­band­ed King Coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty “Elec­tion Integri­ty Com­mit­tee” to sur­veil drop box­es through­out the coun­ty is an ille­gal effort to intim­i­date vot­ers, King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise declared late yesterday.

“King Coun­ty Elec­tions will not stand for intim­i­da­tion or scare tac­tics. I believe this is a tar­get­ed, inten­tion­al strat­e­gy to intim­i­date and dis­suade vot­ers from using secure bal­lot drop box­es. My team is not going to stand by and allow any group to seed fear and doubt amongst our res­i­dents and vot­ers, espe­cial­ly when they are sim­ply try­ing to make their voic­es heard,” said Wise in a state­ment.

“My team is doc­u­ment­ing and remov­ing these signs and refer­ring any infor­ma­tion about who placed them to the King Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion,” Wise added, con­firm­ing that the signs — which many democ­ra­cy defend­ers have sug­gest­ed be removed as quick­ly — are already com­ing down.

“Vot­er intim­i­da­tion is out­lawed at both the state and fed­er­al lev­el,” King Coun­ty Elec­tions’ press release not­ed. “No vot­er should be dis­cour­aged from exer­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­al right to vote. Under state law, it is a crime to intim­i­date vot­ers in an effort to dis­cour­age them from deposit­ing their bal­lots in a drop box.”

“Under fed­er­al law, it is a crime when­ev­er two or more peo­ple con­spire to pre­vent or dis­cour­age peo­ple from exer­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­al right to vote. These are seri­ous offens­es that impact the heart of our democracy.”

“King Coun­ty Elec­tions con­ducts some of the safest and most secure elec­tions any­where in our nation, and these intim­i­da­tion tac­tics are a direct exten­sion of the anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic rhetoric [behind the attacks on our democ­ra­cy],” said King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “Vot­er intim­i­da­tion is a state and fed­er­al crime, and I’ve direct­ed Sher­iff Cole-Tin­dall to investigate.”

“There is no duty more sacred than pro­tect­ing the right to vote and our demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, but today our democ­ra­cy is under threat from those for whom their own extreme ide­ol­o­gy is more impor­tant than the nation itself.”

“Signs intend­ed to make vot­ers feel like they are being watched and mon­i­tored and vio­lat­ing the law by deposit­ing bal­lots is vot­er intim­i­da­tion, peri­od,” con­curred King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney Dan Satterberg.

The ille­gal yard signs put up by Krabach and her gang declare “This Bal­lot Drop­box Is Under Sur­veil­lance” and then say “Accept­ing com­pen­sa­tion for har­vest­ing or deposit­ing bal­lots” (which is a most­ly unheard-of prac­tice) may be a vio­la­tion of Fed­er­al law.” Peo­ple read­ing the signs are then encour­aged to “report sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty here” via a pro­vid­ed QR code that goes to a page set up by Krabach and her elec­tion con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist gang.

The scheme gained wide­spread atten­tion when Seat­tle Times polit­i­cal reporter Jim Brun­ner wrote a sto­ry about it ear­li­er this week. Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of that sto­ry, the Chair­man of the King Coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty sent a cease-and-desist let­ter to Krabach telling her that her activ­i­ties were unau­tho­rized and unap­proved. The let­ter fur­ther instruct­ed Krabach to remove all the signs and warns that if she does­n’t, she could face legal action.

Krabach did not respond to the Times’ request for com­ment. Though it seems she is not com­ment­ing pub­licly about her scheme, NPI has learned that Krabach has been mak­ing the rounds at local Repub­li­can Par­ty meet­ings to pro­mote her can­di­da­cy for the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and her elec­tion con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and has engaged with peo­ple dur­ing those appearances.

Oth­er elec­tion offi­cials, includ­ing Thurston Coun­ty Audi­tor Mary Hall, have also char­ac­ter­ized the signs as a total­ly unac­cept­able attempt to intim­i­date voters.

We agree. This is an out­ra­geous attempt at a sen­si­tive time to under­mine pub­lic con­fi­dence in faith in one of the coun­try’s most robust elec­tions systems.

Elec­tion con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists such as Krabach are con­vinced that there is mas­sive fraud in Wash­ing­ton State and Amer­i­can elec­tions. Although they have absolute­ly no evi­dence to sup­port their ridicu­lous claims, they believe the process is rigged because it does not yield the out­comes that they want.

Elec­tions in King Coun­ty and Wash­ing­ton’s oth­er thir­ty-eight coun­ties are well secured. Vot­ers can be con­fi­dent that strong safe­guards are in place to pro­tect our democ­ra­cy and ensure that our sys­tem of elec­tions is pro­tect­ed against both domes­tic and for­eign threats, despite what peo­ple like Krabach say.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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